Health and Wellbeing

Pathway available at Bath, Bristol, Exeter and UWE

What is it?

The Health and Wellbeing MRes and PhD programmes bring together key academics within the SWDTP with research and teaching strengths in the broad area of health and wellbeing – in particular lifestyle behaviours and public health. It directly addresses the ESRC Strategic Research Challenge of Health and Wellbeing, and is also relevant to the Challenge of Understanding Individual Behaviour.

The HWB programme will make a major impact on understandings of the social science underpinnings of positive well-being and avoidable ill-health problems, and build research capacity at the interface of biomedical and social sciences within and beyond academia.

This interdisciplinary pathway integrates the study of the interaction between multiple lifestyle behaviours – nutrition, physical activity and substance use (i.e. smoking and alcohol consumption), and their impact on public health and risks for chronic diseases. A unique integration of research groups engage in the latest critical thinking on disease risk determinants and correlates across the lifespan (personal, socio-cultural, environmental, psychobiological); behaviour change of individuals and societies; health inequalities; broader social, political and economic contexts.

Research on health and wellbeing is carried out and applied in national and international policy making processes; and strategies to enhance collaboration between academia, industry, and third sector organisations to successfully improve public health indicators.

Who is it for?

The Health and Wellbeing pathway will train social science researchers in the broad area of health and wellbeing – in particular lifestyle behaviours and public health. It seeks to prepare students with a range of skills to develop and evaluate interventions and strategies to improve health behaviour. Students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds will be accepted into this pathway.

What will I study in the first year/MRes programme?

Research training follows the SWDTP interdisciplinary format, i.e. four core research training units will be selected from the consortium’s offerings in research design and methodology and a pathway specific unit; two units will be selected from an open unit list. There is also a research dissertation.

Core mandatory units:

  • Contemporary Debates in Lifestyle Behaviours and Public Health (path specific)

Custom designed and co-convened unit merging elements of existing training in all three Universities and is taught by a cross- institutional team co-ordinated by pathway leads.

  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Design

This unit addresses characteristics and challenges of ‘doing’ interdisciplinary research.

Subject-specific training draws on world class research expertise in physical activity and exercise science; dietary behaviour; substance use; behaviour change theory; mental/physical health and wellbeing; and social/public health policy.

Students experience a breadth of disciplinary enquiry and diverse theoretical perspectives. Students are able to choose from a wide range of existing open units across the three universities, for instance topic specific units on physical activity, tobacco control, and health policy, and applied units such as translating evidence into practice.

Who will supervise my thesis?

For MRes students undertaking a dissertation, supervision will be arranged with an academic staff member who has relevant expertise.

For PhD Students, those funded by ESRC will have two supervisors, one from each of two institutions in the SWDTP.  The supervisors will come from different disciplines.  Non ESRC funded students will have two supervisors from different disciplines potentially within one institution. The supervisors will convene joint meetings regularly.

Please note: the MRes in Health and Well-Being is an ESRC accredited research training programme.  This will allow you to apply for ESRC and other research council studentships depending upon your MRes outcome.

MRes programme

Students can apply for the MRes programme independently from the PhD programme.  If only doing the MRes, funding options are available in the form of bursaries from the UK government or the MRes can be self-funded.

PhD studentships

How many studentships are there in this pathway?

PhD studentships will be awarded each year on a competitive basis from a pool of 45 SWDTP studentships across the five universities.

When would it start?

Students will be expected to start September/October annually.

Health and Wellbeing offers both 1+3 and +3 studentships.

  • Students applying for the 1+3 programme will have a high honors undergraduate degree or equivalent from a relevant discipline.
  • Students applying for the +3 programme must have completed an ESRC recognised MRes or MSc programme with appropriate research training or equivalent by September 2018.

How do I apply for the PhD studentship?

Work out your substantive research topic.

  • Contact the pathway lead at your preferred host University
  • Dr Sean Cumming, University of Bath, S.Cumming@bath.ac.uk, Dr Charlie Foster, University of Bristol, Charlie.Foster@bristol.ac.uk, Dr Lisa Price, University of Exeter, L.R.S.Price@exeter.ac.uk or Dr Stuart McClean, UWE, Stuart.Mcclean@uwe.ac.uk with a brief description of your proposed topic (no more than 1 page). We will then put you in touch with potential supervisor(s).
  • Write a 1000-word proposal.
  • Students applying for ESRC funded studentships are encouraged to speak to their chosen school prior to application in order to discuss their research ideas with a suitable supervisor.
  • Students are encouraged to look at incorporating collaboration with external partners into their research proposal.  Collaboration does not always have to be a financial arrangement and could take the form of a placement, voluntary work, data sharing or other payment in kind opportunities. Students considering overseas fieldwork, overseas institutional visits or difficult language training should also mention this in their application.
  • Submit your proposal to your host University using their online application form.
  • Please see the Admission Statement & FAQs 2019 Entry for further information about the proposal and collaboration.